Thursday, December 19, 2013

The "Move Me" racerback tank top

I learned about a month ago that there are Facebook groups dedicated to buying/selling/trading new and used Zumba clothing. Me being me, I couldn't help myself, I just had to find one and join it. The one I joined is aptly named too, "Zwear Addicts Trading Post". Most of what I see, I just let go by. So far, I've actually only bought one thing from a fellow group member. It was a shirt, and one I've been looking for for a while now. It's an old shirt, at least two years old, maybe even closer to three at this point... It used to be that the only Zumbawear I'd buy was pants. I didn't have the confidence to get the shirts too and just deck myself out completely. What stands out more than a girl wearing cargo pants (that may or may not be neon) with long ribbons, a neon tank top, some neon bracelets, and some neon hair ties and clips? Not a whole heck of a lot! I wear all that (at once...) now, kind of necessary to have that kind of confidence if I'm going to teach a class right? But obviously it's far too late as far as the shirt goes; it has long since passed through Zumba's online shop. Almost since the first day I decided to buy the Zumba brand tank tops, I started looking for this one particular shirt. I checked Amazon, I checked McCarley Fitness (thanks to them for the photos of the top), I even checked Ebay. I'd see one for sale every now and then but it wasn't the right size, or maybe not the right color. As Zumba is prone to do, they released this tank I'm talking about in four different colors. first time I saw this shirt was back when I was all about the black and grey. Want to guess which one of these I bought? Heh. The image of that shirt has stuck with me a long time, so much so that I barely even remembered it existed in three other colors until I started searching for it. The truth is, I probably would have bought any one of these at this point, but finding mediums has proven impossible. Ultimately, I just gave up on having that as one of my search parameters. After I joined the Facebook group, I looked at -everything- (regardless of size) that was in the various albums with much optimism and hope. Incidentally, these albums are broken down by gender, then by size, with separate albums for accessories, shoes, and "wanted".
There were three of these tank tops posted in the albums! Yay! Two were the black style and one was the pink. One of the black ones had already sold to someone else months ago. The remaining black one and the pink one both belonged to the same seller. Her post was over six months old, but I thought, "What have you got to lose?" and posted asking her if either one was still for sale. She told me she'd sold the pink one but the black one was available. Score! That was the one I'd always imagined having too! I did a happy little dance in my seat. Just one thing though, this seller was an XXLovely and I'm a Marvelous...hrmm... I'll admit that this gave me pause, but I went ahead and bought it anyway. It was a bit of a gamble but I decided it was worth the $12 (shipping included) that the seller wanted. I had no idea when I might run across another one of these if I didn't grab this one. Plus, I figured if it didn't fit me well enough as-is, I knew a really good tailor.

When the shirt first arrived, I tried it on. Sure enough, it was too big by quite a bit. I was hoping that the bigness wouldn't be too noticeable, but it was. A large...excuse me...a Lovely, I could have probably gotten away with. But an XXLovely? That's a definitive no. I decided that I was going to have to take the tank top to the tailor. Back in the summer, after I lost a bunch of baby weight (plus some extra), I needed my cargo pants taken in, so I took them to a tailor. You might remember my pants post where I mentioned it. The guy does really good quality work, I wouldn't trust just anyone with my Zumba clothes you know! If you look at the pictures above, the front-facing view shows a tiny little tag down near the waist. I asked him if he could make sure to keep the tag and he did. That shirt looks amazing. If you didn't know it had been altered (and if it didn't say XXL inside) you'd never be able to tell it wasn't originally a size M. So, for people who live in or around Grand Rapids, MI, if you need a good tailor, try Su Alterations & Dry Cleaning at 44th and Kalamazoo (YP listing).

Best advice: If you are going to take a racerback tank to be altered, take a second one with you that you -know- fits you and leave it there as a reference.

I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by either Zumba, Su Alterations & Dry Cleaning, or any of the other stores I referred to -- Simply a shopper with an opinion!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The bachata? Signs point to yes!

I've decided this week that I need to learn bachata.

I don't know about you, but I can totally hear Adam West's voice saying this. Now, if I were a superstitious person...ahem...I might think the universe was pointing me that way. The first "sign" was this funny little Batman & Robin meme.!/Welcome.html

The second was this poster advertising a nightclub that my half-brother had up on his Facebook page; he works there. I saw this and left the comment: "This looks like a lot of fun." Free salsa and bachata lessons? Bonus! That would have been great. I'm telling you, when I go visit my family in Quebec, I am going to get my half-brother and half-sister to take me to this which point I will cross my fingers and hope that my gringa-self doesn't completely embarrass them. Heh.

So things come in three's right?

Here's the song "Wrecking Ball" performed by Katanah as a bachata. She sings it (mostly) in Spanish. I'll be really honest, I didn't like this song until I heard this version. I have it pinned to one of my Pinterest boards for safekeeping. Pinterest is where I originally stumbled across it. I would -love- to buy this as an MP3 to have permanently, but it seems doesn't sell it. Who knows when they will... Blarg Amazon! Blarg I say...

So, bachata. What is it? I really had no idea. Debbie the trainer didn't cover bachata at my B1 certification. So what's the Zumbamommy to do? Why search the internet of course. I started with YouTube, figuring that maybe someone out there had done choreography to Katanah's version of "Wrecking Ball". Sure enough. From watching what was available, I can understand why Robin might mistake Batman's bachata dancing for a (much slower) merengue. My next stop was Wikipedia because I really didn't want make Robin's mistake. You can look up the search results for "bachata" on Wiki yourself easily, so I won't make this an in-depth history kind of post. Some highlights though!

10 Fast Facts About Bachata (source: Wikipedia Bachata (Music))
1) Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic
2) Bachata artists are called "bachateros"
3) The subjects of bachata songs are similar to American blues songs - romance, heartbreak, etc.
4) It's not that old, it's only been around since the early part of the 20th century
5) It is a fusion of African style dance with Latin American bolero dance
6) The basic bachata dance is three steps with a Cuban hip motion followed by a tap step on the fourth beat
7) Bachata music is typically played with five instruments (three guitars and two percussion)
8) Between the 60's and the 80's it was considered "vulgar and crude" and "associated with rural backwardness and delinquency"
9) Bachata became more accepted and popular in the early 90's thanks in large part to Juan Luis Guerra and his hit song Bachata Rose (it won a Grammy)
10) Today, one of the best known bachateros is Prince Royce

Between what's out there on the internet and what I get from being a ZIN, I think I'll have enough resources to learn bachata. I know it's early, but I am officially making "learn bachata" my New Year's resolution.

Best advice:
Photo Credit: Inspiring Love Life Wise Quotes

Friday, December 6, 2013

The 2013 Zumba-lover's gift guide: 5 suggestions for pleasing the Zumba-lover in your life this holiday season

The season of giving is fast approaching (actually, for those who celebrate Chanukah, it's already here...) and it seems like I can't browse the internet these days without tripping over someone's holiday gift guide. We've all seen these, with titles like: "Gift Ideas For Men - 10 Great Gadgets!" or "15 Must-Have Toys For Boys". Actually, I always read them because I think it's interesting to read about what's considered "trendy" or "in season"; and sometimes,
the "it thing" is just flat out laughable (remember the Furby?). Another reason why I read them is because sometimes they really do have good suggestions; ideas I would not have thought of because I don't fit the specific demographic. I like to store knowledge like this away because while I'm not someone who actually wants one of the "7 Creative Gifts For Coffee Lovers" (I prefer tea...), I might someday need to shop for one of those coffee people and this way I'll have an idea of what to get.
Well, I figured I'd better jump on this particular bandwagon and attempt a gift guide suggestion list of my own. You see, I've seen a lot of fitness related lists so far this year, runner and yogi specific ones even, but no Zumba gift guides. Hrmm. Time to remedy that! Before I do, here's a qualifier. I'm not a "gifting expert" by any means, but what I am is a crazy Zumba girl and I know what kinds of things -I- would like to get so I figure I can't be too far off the mark here.

1. Clothes - If you know the clothing size of the Zumba-lover in your life, this is a great idea. I personally love getting new Zwear (cargo pants in particular...Babe? If you're reading this...). Here are some suggestions for you dear readers (and dear husband...) and I included a sale option for each. Honestly, I could probably do a whole "gift guide" on just the clothes. Zumba makes it so easy...
$52.50 (Reg. $65)

But I'll keep it to just these... On the left, the blue pair is the newest style of cargo pants and on the right, the black pair is an older-yet-still-very-awesome style that you can buy on sale. Same with the shirts, the one on the left is from the new Gold Collection and the one on the right is from a previous line and is on sale.
$16.50 (Reg. $20)
And a couple of ideas for the fellows...
$17.50 (Reg. $25)
The Let's Connect shorts in"Love Me Lime" and the Lift-Off V-Neck Tee in "Zumba Green".

Prices as of Dec. 6, 2013
2. Shoes - Again, a gift like this requires knowing the wearer's size. I will say this for the shoe idea, now is the time. Neon athletic shoes are "in" right now in a big way. In my opinion, this is awesome! Hrmm, I wonder if there are people out there right now laughing at neon sneakers the way I laughed at Furbies? Eye of the beholder I suppose... In any event, every brand out there right now seems to have some for sale. I went to Foot Locker's website and did a search using only the key word "neon". Then I filtered it to "women" and then again to "shoes". If you want to see the full results (31 pairs!), click here, but above are some of the highlights. Each is a different brand of shoe and the price range is from $29.99-$89.99.

Prices as of Dec. 6, 2013
I did the same thing with men's shoes and got 35 results. For whatever reason, these men's shoes cost more than the ladies', ranging from $89.99-$139.99.

And of course Zumba sells their own brand of shoe! I Love my Z-Kickz II's.
$52.50 (Reg. $75)

Women's Z-Kickz (above)
Men's Z-Kickz II (right)

3. Accessories - Here's one instance where size matters not. Neon bracelets, buy them you will! Sorry, I couldn't resist (the Zumbamommy is a Star Wars nerd in a big way). Heh. So, Zumba has over 50 different accessories to choose from on their website right now. Here are some neat ones: a phone case, a water bottle, a three-pack of hair ties, and a set of bracelets (of course).
$17.50 (Reg. $25)
$18.50 (Reg. $20)
$7.50 (Reg. $10)

4. Classes - What good is getting all dressed up without a class to go to? Get your Zumba-loving friend or spouse some as a gift. Most instructors and studios will do gift certificates or punch cards and give you some kind of discount for buying several classes at a time.
5. Music - Now, I'm a little strange because I'm in the small minority of people that don't have an i-Gizmo. run my music off my Windows phone so I shop on Amazon. But, for those out there with iTunes accounts, an iTunes gift card is a great idea. They come in a wide variety of denominations and are incredibly convenient since you can usually buy them in your local supermarket checkout lane. Music is one of those things Zumba people can't really have too much of. Zumba also sells music directly from their site as well as on You can get single CD's or multi-CD sets such as the one pictured above. This set contains Cardio Party (orange), Party Nation (green), and Vibe Tribe (purple) and is a fun idea for the enthusiastic student. Chances are though, an instructor would have all those just by virtue of being the instructor so it's better to let her (or him) pick out her (or his) own music.

**Bonus Idea** Certification - Only a gift for the very generous as it's fairly costly. I only include it because I got a B1 certification class as a birthday gift this year from Bry (and our boys). I'll say this, if I were going to ask for a second specialty as a present (someday in the future...), it would probably be Zumba Kids/Kids Jr., not that I've given it too much thought or anything... Heh.

Best advice: When in doubt (about sizes, styles, colors, etc.), go with plastic!
I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by either Zumba, Foot Locker, or iTunes -- Simply a shopper with an opinion!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The not-so-handy 9-pack - a review of socks from Costco by K. Bell {UPDATED}

Happy Monday dear readers. It seems like things have returned to normal after the holiday chaos that was the long weekend. I know that I am both breathing a sigh of relief as well as bracing myself for the next round of madness to come. I'm going to enjoy this brief reprieve before I delve into shopping for presents for various family members. If it wasn't a holiday weekend for you, then just disregard everything after the greeting. Now, to the actual topic of today's post: Socks that come in multi-packs.
I've mentioned before that I have a Costco membership. I'm usually there once every 7-10 days to buy some groceries for our family. On one of my most recent visits, I saw some brightly colored athletic socks. The colors made them easy to spot from a distance and upon further inspection, they came in a handy 9-pack. You can see them for sale on Costco's website here and there are more for sale at the manufacturer's site. The ones you see in the picture above aren't precisely -the- colors that I bought, but you get the idea. Part of what I liked so much about the set that I bought from Costco was that it included a red pair, the -perfect- red to go with my red cargo pants. The pack also contained some other bright solid colors and two pairs with stripes. Basically, there may as well have been a flashing neon arrow over the sock display in Costco that read, "Great socks for Zumba here!" They seemed perfect.

Seemed being the operative word here...

So here's the story. I wore them at home to practice on Saturday about a month ago, and I noticed my feet felt a little raw afterward. I chocked it up to my shoes actually. I'd been keeping track of how much I'd worn them and I knew that they'd outlived their usefulness and that it was time for a change. Fast forward to Wednesday night, and I get to class only to find that I had neither changed into athletic socks, nor packed any into my dance bag. Doh! This is why I need to keep an emergency Zumba stash in the trunk of my car. I'd left the house that evening feeling like I was forgetting something... Did I dance anyway? What do you think?

How many votes for "Of course she didn't, because she didn't want to risk getting blisters on her toes."?
And for "Of course she did, because she's a freak about her Zumba."?

This one is a gimme when you think about it...because only someone who is a freak about her Zumba would think she needs to have an emergency Zumba stash in her car. Of course I stayed for class! It would have been worth the blisters, except for that I didn't get any. I was astounded to find that my ordinary pair of everyday socks managed to do the job. I thought for sure I was going to have to wrap my toes in band-aids when I got home that evening and said as much to Jae, but I will take that pleasant surprise and be happy with it.

Moving ahead to Saturday, so one full week later, I put on one of my new pairs of striped socks to practice in. I didn't really notice until I was done and had started to stretch (thank you Zumba fog...), but my feet were sore. I knew it wasn't the shoes this time, because I'd gotten a new practice pair from my "retiree stash". I was pretty sure it had to be the socks. I had to wrap three toes in band-aids and to add insult to injury, the dye from the blue stripe bled onto my skin. Needless to say, I was not happy. I kind of wish I had kept the receipt actually. My every-day socks can get me through a class with no problems, but these, that are supposed to be athletic socks, can't get me through a practice without blisters? Really? Yeesh...

Here's what I like about the socks:
- they are beautiful - I like the style and the colors because they match my Zumba gear extraordinarily well for not being the Zumba brand
- they are soft and feel good on my feet (initially at any rate...)

Here's what I don't like about the socks:
- they don't do the job they're designed to do (moisture control) - at least they don't for me
- the dye bleeds when the socks are wet (in spite of a pre-wash) - that's not cool for a sweat sock

Would I buy these again as athletic socks? No. Would I'd buy them again -at all-? The jury's still out. The bottom line is that I'm going to attempt to re-purpose them as an every-day kind of sock and see if I find them comfortable in that capacity.

The next time I buy socks, I might get some from Zumba.
At the left are socks currently available from Zumba.
At the right and below are some older pairs from previous collections that are no longer available directly from Zumba's shop. I put them up just as examples. Like anything else Zumba sells, they are bright and colorful. The Funk-It-Up pairs actually do have the Zumba logo on them, it's just on the sole of the sock. Hey, it's Zumba, they put their stamp on everything they make. With Zumbawear, I have liked everything I have ever ordered. So, if I extrapolate from that, odds are I'd like these socks. And, at least when buying these, it's only a 3-pack.

Best advice: Beware the handy 9-pack! It's a gamble the first time you buy it. If you discover you like the product, then great! Now you have nine of them! If you discover you don't care for the product, then rats! What are you going to do with nine of them?

I am neither affiliated with or endorsed by either Zumba or K. Bell -- Simply a shopper with an opinion!

UPDATE: It's Dec. 26, 2013, so over a month since I first started using these socks and I've decided I really don't like them at all! They are in the next donation box out of here, mark my words. As an every-day sock, they slide down inside my shoe until the sock is bunched up under my heel. Then I have to wedge a finger in there and pull it up again. Also, they aren't warm! It's winter and my feet and ankles have been so cold the days I've worn these and gone out in them. Okay, even through that, I might have considered keeping them around as "house socks"... But the last straw came today! The pink pair I washed with the other dark colors bled in the wash. And this is -after- being washed twice before so clearly these socks are not color-fast. Thankfully, the Shout Color Catcher (love those!) caught most of it, but not enough of it. My brand new Zumba Instructor tank top was in that load and now I am trying to get pink spots off of it. So mad...I am so mad! I would not recommend these socks.